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Old 12-30-2017, 08:27 PM
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Slippery Slope: Eta

During the 1980s the contrast between attending university and attending community college might be captured in the movie "Animal House". I was a community college guy taking electronics classes. The school felt real, I mean I was learning everything that I was supposed to about transistor gain, machine coding computers, and I even had a phys ed requirement. I wanted camping but that class was cancelled due to low enrollment. My hope was to pick up a babe around a campfire. Damn. Instead I enrolled in scuba diving and a co-instructor was a cop. He had the babe and I had a rubber suit.

If you have read this far then you understand the power of storytelling and how desperately humans want to learn from each other. For me the movie "Animal House" drew a stark contrast between my community college and university. Community college had math and university had beer and babes. Damn! I needed to finish community college and transfer my credits to university.

There's a chink in the armor at that step. Admission officers know it. What I discovered was an inefficient route to university, beer, and babes. Stick with me and start to focus on how I use the the word efficiency. If there is a debate in this thread then that is topic I hope that it starts with.

At university I began to experience the Greek life that I wanted from "Animal House". I was learning calculus in one building and engineering in another building. My heart was fascinated with the rigidity of mathematics. It reminded me of my Italian neighbors that worked with bricks. They did everything right, drove Trans Ams, and had hot broads. But I sucked at math. I would never be a mathematician or an Italian.

But being Greek still held hope. The movie Animal House gave me that hope and it took root when I started to learn how to express a catch-phrase such as "conservation of energy", e.g. efficiency, as lower case eta. Shit balls. I was beyond Animal House. I thought that I was in tune with the Greeks. I know eta mutha fuckers.

As that part of my life developed I also learned about a dance between mathematicians and engineers. Mathematicians tend to be purists and engineers tend to be conservators. When they have gentlemanly disagreements they poke at each others "fudge factors". When it comes to efficiency, fudge factors are on the right side of the decimal point. Engineers learn that eta can never be greater than one. eta apparently has upper and lower cases.

Enter economics class in university. I was broadsided with the notion that a dollar input could indefinitely produce more than a dollar output, i.e. violate engineering efficiency. At the time, which was about thirty years ago, I would have used the most harsh language that mathematicians, engineers, and economists used to pause each others arguments for a moment. That language approached the strength of "painful gyration" because debates felt like a dance.

Tonight I wonder why mathemagicians use different symbols to represent efficiency? What exactly is it that humankind is trying to get good at?

In the middle of that might be the difference between upper and lower case eta and which 1 is more afraid to actually be efficient.

I dunno. Just rambling.
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Last edited by ebacon; 12-30-2017 at 08:31 PM.
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Old 12-30-2017, 08:44 PM
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Have you ever seen the little 'mathematical' exploration of the implications of this famous pair of equations?

1.Time is money
2. Money is power

With the addition of a third equation:

3. Power is work over time

a number of interesting conclusions can be drawn using only simple algebra.

(Application of the engineering concept of efficiency to the time value of money is, I think, mathematics of the same sort.)
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Old 12-30-2017, 08:53 PM
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Further, your painful gyrations I think are directly comparable to the pain that leads Trump supporters to the conviction that the mainstream press constantly lies about Trump. I don't mean to compare you to such people in general, I assure you, but I compare the mental pain and the class of mental event that elicit it, that is, something attacking a belief to which one is solidly committed.
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Old 07-15-2018, 08:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donquixote99 View Post
Further, your painful gyrations I think are directly comparable to the pain that leads Trump supporters to the conviction that the mainstream press constantly lies about Trump. I don't mean to compare you to such people in general, I assure you, but I compare the mental pain and the class of mental event that elicit it, that is, something attacking a belief to which one is solidly committed.
Thank you. Politics is wickedly difficult to discuss. So difficult that sometimes I even forget why I wrote when I did. Thoughtful replies like yours force me to revisit my thoughts.

I do not have access to the data that bins people as Trump supporters. All I have access to is my vision of creating walkable neighborhoods and my memories of living in them to seed my internet searches.

The "eta" title that I gave this thread has a deep tap root. As an electrical engineer I am constantly worried about efficiency. The Greek letter "eta" is what engineers use to represent efficiency. We all want to be efficient. Right? That's a leading question. Don't answer it unless you want to.

When I started discussing politics here I gave it my best effort to paint politicians in good light. At the time my political antithesis were Al Gore and what I viewed as his black equivalent, Colin Powell. They both were focused on money as a tolerable substitute for truth. They made sense in a gawd-awful mess of "Visualize Whirled Peas" vs. "Who Moved My Cheese" bumper sticker kind of way, but I could not vote for their noisy mode of public discussion.

As I reflect deeper on my political leanings and pray for the best for America, I can't help but to tell a story that my dad told me about his experience in Vietnam. It is a story about efficiency in the most primal sense -- which is relying on the senses.

Eta?

Dad's only story of Vietnam is about being an artillery forward observer. His team mate was a smoker. One night they were in VC territory and living under their ponchos. The team mate lit a cigarette under his poncho and it lit up like a glow worm. Dad wanted to kill him. He wanted to kill his own.

That is anger. That is efficient war. The civil war of light.

Not of money. Money is an amplifier of bad ideas.

I'm rambling. Thank you, again.
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donquixote99 View Post
Have you ever seen the little 'mathematical' exploration of the implications of this famous pair of equations?

1.Time is money
2. Money is power

With the addition of a third equation:

3. Power is work over time

a number of interesting conclusions can be drawn using only simple algebra.

(Application of the engineering concept of efficiency to the time value of money is, I think, mathematics of the same sort.)
That's interesting in an anecdotal kind of way. I don't know if I am using the word anecdotal properly. Better words might be bumper sticker or meme.

I have no problem with rich people. In fact I see rich people as best situated to make good. My employee mindset wants to help rich people stay that way with a simple caveat: that they are aware of the nuanced nature of making messes versus making things with enduring beauty that employee-minded people like me want to maintain. That caveat fits into the space of writing goals, which is a craft that I think corporations, if they want to be part of a solution instead of a problem, need to perfect.

Small businesses, say sole proprietorships, do not have to deal with goals that amplify beauty and messes. Instead they deal in the calm time and spaces of maintenance of their associated communities. That is why we like our family owned hardware stores, diners, shoe repair shops, and the like. It pains those proprietors to no end when they lose customers to the likes of malls and struggle to survive. When I worked in a shoe repair shop a common apology from a returning customer was that they sought cheaper service in the mall and all they got was a super-glued shoe. They did not get new leather, sewing, polish, and shoes that they wanted to wear for another year. Their hearts taught them that they wanted Angelo and Ed at Utica Shoe Repair.

Smack in the middle of that story is a contrast between leaders that own malls and leaders that continually govern communities. All of those leaders are wealthy in a global sense of wealth, but which of those leaders is working smarter at massaging bricks and mortar into something that we all want to live in? I don't think that a bumper-sticker/mathematical/anecdote splits the hair fine enough for civil discussion.

Case in point. In the work space of Utica Shoe repair we discussed the professions of customers that were the most profitable. The two that rose to the top were car salesmen and horse people. Car salesman need to look good and walk on pavement a lot. They wear out their shoes while walking to sell an alternative to walking. Horse people wear out their shoes by walking in shit that dissolves their shoes as they seek an alternative to walking.

Meanwhile Lakeside Mall, which was our business nemesis, tried to be a good corporate citizen in our neighborhood by opening its doors early for mall walkers.

Walkable communities are a common goal for all rich and their employees. We all benefit from walking among each other. Given that, I think a more beneficial discussion might be how far do we like to walk each day and what do we like to be around as we walk that limited distance vs a bumper sticker reduction of the labors of rich vs poor.

Peace!
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Old 08-21-2018, 09:26 AM
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Ebacon,
Very nice and thoughtful post.
It serves well to remind folks that even though we have different opinions, we are all still valid in our thoughts and input. Thank for sharing.
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Old 08-21-2018, 10:43 AM
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Efficiency and maximization of result shouldn't be mutually exclusive, but maximizing result regardless of efficiency considerations as a short term goal is antithetical to efficiency.
Efficiency works from both ends, minimizing use of resources and minimizing requirements at the consumer end for a sensible desirable result. This includes accounting for the total cost of production, including minimizing waste and resourse displacements, a "global" accounting.
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Last edited by Pio1980; 08-21-2018 at 10:47 AM.
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